Mudras – Hand Seals for Happiness Featured

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Mudras – Hand Seals for Happiness Photograph courtesy of Dr. Judit Torok

Mudras – Hand Seals for Happiness

Let’s begin with an exercise. Either seated or standing, take one long, conscious breath–one deep inhale and exhale. Now, make a strong fist with both of your hands and hold it for a moment. Take a mental note as you squeeze your hands. How are you feeling? How is your breath? What feelings arise?

Now, unclench your fists and open your hands with your palms facing up. You can rest your hands on your lap if you are seated, or next to your body if you are standing. Take another deep breath – and another mental note. What has changed? Is your breathing any different? What are you feeling now? To experiment further, slowly lift your arms above your shoulders. With your palms facing each other, take a deep breath. What’s going on here?

Our minds and bodies are connected in complex and intricate ways. Mindfulness and yoga practitioners have known about this connection for centuries, while modern science is now compiling evidence to prove that these practices have countless health benefits and can vastly improve our happiness.

The short exercise you just did, called “willing hands,” is one of many practices recommended by experts in mindfulness-based cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral training. It can help us to accept reality with our bodies, allowing us to control our anger and anxiety. From the Yogic perspective, it is called mudra meditation.

A mudra is a mark, seal or gesture, often performed with our hands, that guides energy flow and reflexes to our brains. The way we hold our hands by opening, curling, crossing, or touching the fingers influences the way we “hold our minds.” Our hands have a strong connection to the mind; when we place our hands in a calm, open and still position, our thoughts and emotions mirror the same qualities.

It doesn’t take much effort to change our inner feelings. Practice this open, willing-hands exercise with a deep breath at any time of the day: while commuting, doing household chores, or waiting in line. Practice when you are anxious or feeling angry and you will notice how this mudra can shift your outlook immediately. There are also many other hand mudras to choose from. I encourage you to explore them and find the one that truly helps you open, release, anchor, focus and become more compassionate towards yourself and others.


The complete article can be found in Issue #280 of the Tokyo Journal.

Written By:

Judit Torok

Tokyo Journal columnist Dr. Judit Torok is a philosopher, intercultural thinker and yoga instructor. She was born in Hungary and learned Japanese fluently at an early age. She has visited Japan many times and worked for a Japanese company for more than a decade. She received her doctorate degree in philosophy at the New School University and uses her intercultural background and education as a springboard to focus on theories of ethics, aesthetics and multicultural marginality. She is an energetic, creative and certified yoga instructor who promotes a holistic and healthy lifestyle for people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities, incorporating general wellness, alternative medicine and nutrition into her classes.


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